The Portland Trail Blazers reached new heights in the various NBA Power Rankings thanks to an 3-1 week (through Monday, when most power rankings go live), which included road wins over the New York Knicks, Memphis Grizzlies and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Last week, the Blazers ranked in the 16-21 range. This week, for the first time all season, the Blazers cracked the top half of most of the NBA Power Rankings lists.
Marc Stein of ESPN.com ranks the Blazers No. 13 (up from No. 16).
Portland is the only team in the West's current top eight sporting a negative nightly average point margin (-2.2). Which suggests that the rebuilding Blazers are in a false position ... until you remember they've won six straight home games and are 9-6 against .500-or-better opposition.
John Schuhmann of NBA.com ranks the Blazers No. 14 (up from No. 17).
Last week, we gave you reasons not to believe in the Blazers: strength of schedule and point differential. Then they gave you reasons to believe in them: victories in New York, Memphis and Minnesota, with Nicolas Batum shooting 14-for-26 from 3-point range in the three wins. Their schedule-strength rank is now up to 21st, but it doesn't ease up until late next week.
Matt Dollinger of SI.com ranks the Blazers No. 16 (up from No. 17). Note: this one was posted last Friday.
Damian Lillard hit the second biggest shot of his spectacular, albeit short, career with a step-back three-pointer to ice the Knicks (and here's No. 1). Lillard's not only been carrying the Blazers this season, he's been putting up one of the greatest rookie seasons of any point guard in history. His 18.4 points per game rank 15th all time among guards and his 2.3 three-pointers per game rank first, slightly ahead of Stephen Curry (2.1). Many people have thrown out comparisons -- Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Brandon Roy to name a few -- but Lillard's rookie statistics closely mirror a different point guard: Steve Francis. Many don't remember Francis fondly, but he was sensational before his abrupt decline. Lillard is currently averaging 18.4 points, 6.4 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.03 steals per game, while Francis put up 18 points, 6.6 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals during his rookie campaign.
Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk ranks the Blazers No. 14 (up from No. 17).
They beat the Knicks, Grizzlies and Timberwolves last week - that's the kind of week playoff teams have. And Portland looks like it could be one, but they can't have many slip ups in a deep, deep West.
Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports ranks the Blazers No. 14 (up from No. 17).
Point guard Damon Lillard, widely viewed as the NBA's top Rookie of the Year candidate, will visit his hometown Warriors on Friday for the first time as a pro.
Matt Moore of CBSSports.com ranks the Blazers No. 10 (up from No. 16).
They just need to rename it "Inexplicable, Oregon."
David Aldridge of NBA.com included the Blazers in his "Fine 15" rankings for the first time all season at No. 15.
Looked dead in the water and unable to score two weeks ago, but the Blazers have won 10 of their last 13, allowing just 93.5 points per game during that stretch, and with Nicolas Batum filling up the stat sheet.
Seth Rosenthal of SB Nation ranks the Blazers No. 14 (up from No. 19).
Collapse against the Raptors aside (man, would it have been lovely to take that one, too), Portland just had themselves a terrific road trip, taking three close wins (two against top teams in New York and Memphis) in four stops. The Blazers are in pretty good shape heading into a home-heavy rest of January.
John Hollinger (formerly) of ESPN.com ranks the Blazers No. 21 (same as last week).
According to Hollinger's team stats, the Blazers ranked...
- No. 13 (up from No. 14) in offensive efficiency
- No. 23 (down from No. 21) in defensive efficiency
- No. 18 (same as last week) in rebound rate
- No. 22 (same as last week) in pace
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter